Fred Wesley plays the trombone. It’s not a sexy instrument. So it’s not the type of instrument you typically see a band leader holding.
But it’s a wild instrument. An audacious instrument. A who-even-came-up-with-the-idea-for-this instrument.
Like a fretless bass meets a trumpet.
It can just do things other brass instruments can’t do.
Which means there are legends of the instrument, doing legendary things, usually in backing bands but, on rare occasion, up front. Fred Wesley is near the top of that list. In the band, and especially up front.
“Damn Right I’m Somebody” is the lead track on the Fred Wesley and The J.B.s album People.
James Brown is producing it. Because Fred Wesley was in Brown’s band. It’s like he was in/behind/helping steer all the bands.
This song and album is after he played with Ike and Tina Turner. And it’s before he played with George Clinton and various P-Funk iterations. It’s also before he joined Count Basie’s band. And well before I learned his name and history (and started finding him in all these other liner notes as “holy crap this is the SAME GUY?!”) when he was a member of the Greyboy Allstars.
Notice the people in the movement who are as integral to the movement itself as the leaders.
Fred Wesley is one of those characters. “Damn Right I’m Somebody” is a declaration of this theme. What it means to be somebody.
Only appropriate the song kept showing up in samples and stayed a staple of his live shows for decades.
Take a listen. Hear it live. Hear it sampled. Remember the scene is as important as the movement. Focus on being a somebody, not a nobody, and staying proactive in whatever scene, community, or whatever you’re a part of.
(This is sooooo funky. God I love putting this on. If you play, you have to play along too.)
And OK, I know it’s only a snippet, but it’s in these too!